Manhattans Lose Two ‘Shining Stars’

Renowned R&B vocal group The Manhattans suffered the loss of two of its founding members in recent weeks with the December passings of Winfred “Blue” Lovett and Edward “Sonny” Jessie Bivins Jr.

Bivins and Lovett along with Kenny “Wally” Kelley and Richard “Ricky” Taylor combined their musical talents shortly after the individual members completed military service during the early 1960s. Lead singer Smith died following an injury in 1970, resulting in Gerald Alston joining the group.

Praised as “two giants of the R&B music scene in Jersey City” by Jersey Journal, Bivins and Lovett died only days apart.  Bivins, 78, passed away in Basking Ridge, N.J., Dec. 3 and Lovett, 74, succumbed to cancer Dec. 9 in Arizona.

“Blue was the notable bass voice of our group and one of my closest friends,” Alston said.  “He was like a brother and I will miss him dearly.”

Lamenting the death of his good friend and bandmate Bivins, Alston said it was difficult to put into words what he felt regarding the loss of his two brothers in music.  “It’s a very emotional time and my heart is heavy,” Alston said.

With a musical catalog spanning more than four decades, The Manhattans’ collection of hits includes “Kiss And Say Goodbye,” “There’s No Me Without You” and the Grammy award-winning “Shining Star.”

A funeral service for Bivins was held Dec. 15 at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in East Orange, N.J.  A memorial will be held for Lovett at the same church Jan. 3.  In lieu of flowers, the family is asking fans to offer donations in memory of the singer to Arizona Assistance via their website.  Condolence cards may be sent to P.O. Box 4063 Bergen Station, Jersey City, N.J., 07304.  Fans can also offer their condolences via the website.